WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kumutoto Option B


Back when the Kumutoto exhibition first opened, I wrote that the most rectilinear building was also one of the most radical. This is it: an enormous grid of wooden beams, with cascading walls of vegetation and Tetris-like translucent modules inserted into the frame.

Kumutoto sites 8, 9 and 10 competition - option B - Site 10 buildingThis is just the site 10 building. I can't quite work out whether there's a render of the other sites, but the plan suggests that site 9 is a smaller version of the same thing, while site 8 is left unbuilt. In between, there's a lively tangle of jetties, pontoons, wetlands and small pavilions, which is spanned by the open latticework of the grid to form a gateway to Whitmore St.

Kumutoto sites 8, 9 and 10 competition - option B - planWhile in many ways this is one of the most innovative and exciting schemes in the competition, it looks very much as if the designers have never been to Wellington. Check out those images of happy people strolling, posing or tapping at their laptops on 1m-wide catwalks suspended above a serenely shimmering harbour; or strutting through wide-open office floors to gardens elevated four floors above the street. Quite apart from the social and economic unlikelihood of such scenarios, there would be only a handful of days a year when such activities would be desirable, and many days in which they'd be dangerous or physically impossible.

I think, though, that this entry is proposed more as a provocation or to stimulate lateral thinking than as a buildable scheme. So let's take it in that spirit and see what there is to learn from it. On a practical level, I like the car stacker at the northern end, as an alternative to underground or first-floor carparks. This is covered in foliage, which seems less impractical when you consider the hardy vegetation that clings to coastal cliffs around the harbour. The incremental "plug-in" growth of office modules within the grid may be redundant, given the rumours that a large office tenant is ready to go for this site, but it's worth considering elsewhere in the city. The dissolving of borders between public space and building interior is an idea worth exploring, despite the climatic impracticalities, as is the idea of a three-dimensional gateway at the Whitmore St entrance.

Finally, I like the contrast between exposed industrial-style girders and the fact that it's all built out of wood. There's a weaving of the grand and the domestic, the practical and the playful, organic and high-tech, that makes me really want to imagine this is possible. I don't think it is, but maybe we can take some of the more unusual elements from this entry and apply them to whichever scheme is chosen.

1 Comments:

At 11:18 AM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Nikolai H said...

Am reading 'The Scar' by China Mieville at present, so this appeals to me enourmously as a land-based equivalent....

 

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